Do you have what it takes?

There is a clear ambiguity and ambivalence for many men in understanding when they know they finally “have what it takes,” and with the continued fracturing of the nuclear family, many men are left to ponder the question on their own. There is a bit of a crisis, in my mind, of men in America, to have the opportunity to prove to themselves that they do, in fact, have what it takes, and that the world is in critical need to step into their greatness. I have spoken with many men who have shared similar concerns, and while this may not be the case for everyone, I think it is safe to say there are a group of men amongst us who yearn for the opportunity to answer the question, “Do I have what it takes,” and a clear path to establish and assert their manhood, however, they may define it.n you get married, or when you have children. But what if you don’t want children, or you don’t want to get married until you are in your 30’s? Are you delaying your ability to call yourself a man until then?


Striking and grappling are a great way to push your limits

Although some may find these practices to be primitive, obsolete, or barbaric even, they have proven to play a critical role within the individual communities and cultures. While these are examples that are likely not conducive to our current American culture they serve as a strong example of the value of the rite of passage, something that is all but missing in our era. How does a boy know when he becomes a man? Is it when he graduates high school, or turns 18? Or is it when he graduates college? However, many choose to continue their education and may not graduate until their mid-30’s. So, are you not a man until you receive that prestigious degree? Does the institution of higher education not only bestow upon you your degree but also your sense of manhood? Maybe it is when you get married, or when you have children. But what if you don’t want children, or you don’t want to get married until you are in your 30’s? Are you delaying your ability to call yourself a man until then?


I am chief amongst those men, and it is partly what brought me to Lightning Kicks Martial Arts Academy. My whole life I lived with a significant amount of fear and without a father to teach me how to exist in the world I was also very confused about what was expected of me. I could never answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?” or how I would respond when it was needed most. I was looking for a test, an opportunity to prove myself and exercise my own primal urge to overcome and thrive in an unpredictable world. I was looking for a community that would support me on my journey, who were energized by my commitment and resilience to training to become the best version of myself, and that is exactly what I found at Lightning Kicks.assert their manhood, however they may define it.


I am chief amongst those men, and it is partly what brought me to Lightning Kicks Martial Arts Academy. My whole life I lived with a significant amount of fear and without a father to teach me how to exist in the world I was also very confused of what was expected of me. I could never answer the question, “Do I have what it takes?” or how I would respond when it was needed most. I was looking for a test, an opportunity to prove myself and exercise my own primal urge to overcome and thrive in an unpredictable world. I was looking for a community that would support me on my journey, who were energized by my commitment and resilience to training to become the best version of myself, and that is exactly what I found at Lightning Kicks.

For me, I felt as if I had truly established my own manhood when I was faced with the most basic and primal form of conflict, man to man unarmed combat. It is something that has terrified me my entire life, something I avoided like the plague. But through the process of becoming a martial artist and facing this fear head on I had the privilege of watching the fear melt away from my being. I’ve been put through absolute hellish circumstances during my own MMA Training Camp, facing what I thought to be the greatest pain a man could bear, the greatest conflict I could imagine, and I’ve never felt more alive.


Something happens when you take the plunge into the unknown, where the outcome is uncertain and the likelihood of suffering significant. You come out a different person, liberated from past fears, especially from the fear of suffering, and the world begins to open up before you. The truth is, there is a price to be paid to accomplish your destiny, whatever it may be. Sacrifices must be made, personal growth must be had, and that is without a doubt a painful process full of growing pains and suffering. But, as the epitome of transformation David Goggins once said, “On the other side of suffering is greatness.” If you feel like there is something missing in your life, that you long for transformation and a community to support you, I hope you will consider visiting us at Lightning Kicks, and we can suffer together and support each other along our own paths to greatness.


About the Author

David Tanner Lauka is a member of Lightning Kicks Martial Arts Academy and author of Capturing the Ghost. He is also the founder of the Slaughterhouse Combat Team, a non-profit organization designed to equip trauma survivors to battle their fears through the martial arts. He is a childhood trauma survivor who suffers from PTSD and hopes to use his story to encourage others in their journey of healing.

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